In Europe, as the Allies assaulted German-occupied France across the beaches of Normandy, around the world a different invasion was taking shape... On June 5, 1944 71,000 Marines and soldiers left Pearl Harbor for the Marianas Islands on board ships of the US Navy's 5th Fleet. Their target: Saipan.
Capturing Saipan and the Marianas would move B-29 bombers within range of the Japanese home islands, while cutting off contact to occupied islands to the southwest. It was an important mission. The men undertaking it were veterans of two years hard fighting on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, and Kwajalein. Among their number was Lieutenant Commander Richard B. Black, USNR, the officer responsible for controlling landing craft operations during the invasion.
His party was aboard the 110 foot long patrol boat SC-1049, allowing them to stay mobile during operations off the shores of the island. The primary job of the joint Marine Corps/Navy team on SC-1049 was to keep the vital channel entrance open, functioning as traffic cops and gate keepers to make sure vital supplies got to the men on the island in a timely fashion.
Though "forced to withdraw due to heavy mortar and gunfire" at times, they continued at their station from June 15th to June 20th. For his actions, Commander Black would receive the Bronze Star with Combat "V". In 1952 Richard B. Black bought Rippon Lodge, home of his namesake and ancestor, Richard Blackburn, in Woodbridge. Today thanks in part to his efforts you can still visit that 270 year old home.
The pictures below show the SC-1049 aground on Okinawa after a typhoon in 1945. To the right is a photo of Commander, later Rear Admiral, Black taken for the Honolulu newspapers after the announcement of his Silver Star.
If you'd like to hear more stories about Admiral Black's fascinating, globe spanning career, visit Rippon Lodge Historic Site in Woodbridge, VA! Or give us a call at (703) 499-9812 for more information.
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